If We’re Going to Be Swimming Upstream in Debunking Coronavirus Nonsense, Let’s Be One Another’s Life Vests

There is no possibility of unity as the vegan community divides into factions that promote dangerous misinformation and those who do not.

Marla Rose


Credit: Edvard Munch “Boys Bathing”; RawPixel.com

The last six months have been such an unsettling experience for all of us that we’d probably need to come up with a new word for unprecedented if it and its synonyms didn’t already exist. The spread of the novel coronavirus alone would be enough to cause people to lose their bearings — with the unexpected, prolonged financial consequences, the sudden uncertainty and loss of normalcy, the threat to our mental, emotional and physical health — but the upheaval doesn’t end there. One of the most jarring and disorienting aspects of the fallout around COVID-19 for me has been learning how many people I considered part of my larger vegan community have embraced and started spreading misinformation and disinformation about this deadly, highly transmissible disease.

There are numerous messy and hybridizing camps of deniers, down-players, truthers and theorists, a many-headed Hydra: one camp will claim that the coronavirus is a hoax or it’s exaggerated; another is busily pursuing their doctorates at YouTube University and is inclined to recommend “cures” as well as casually float conspiracies that would cause Alex Jones to put down whatever he’s huffing and take notice; yet another camp will make unsubstantiated but strangely confident claims about what makes someone less susceptible to contracting the virus or impervious to it altogether. Often it is an incoherent jumble of allied strategies and stances, and if you tug on one strand, you will see that it is connected to all these other threads. Almost all camps will tell you to “do your research” when challenged, which is shorthand for “I watched some janky, discredited videos and read some garbage without proper citations and you should do the same.”

It is clear that there is no shortage of opinions with regard to the coronavirus, its origins, what to do about it or even if it is real. That is to be expected about anything discussed online, especially when so many of us are consuming lots of media and spending more time on our…